It is during the hair transplant recovery that hair growth starts to take place. However, this isn’t immediate. It follows a general timeline during which you should normally notice some things happening with your scalp. It’s better to be aware of what you can expect during this period so that you’re better prepared.
How Long Does a Hair Transplant Take to Heal?
In general, hair transplant recovery refers to how long it takes for side effects to subside. That takes anywhere between 1-2 weeks. It can vary depending on the technique of the surgery and the health of the patient. However, dealing with side effects is just a part of the recovery process.
Many others are concerned with the growth of the hair itself and the aftercare. As far as growth is concerned, it can take 1 year for you to see the final results of the surgery. However, the process begins months after the surgery and continues for a lifetime. Recovering from an FUE hair transplant will involve the following stages:
- Dormant period: 0 to 3 months
- Emergent period: 3 to 12 months
- Maturation period: 12 to 18 months
To better understand this, let’s take a look at the recovery timeline.
Day 1 – Post Surgery
One day after the transplant, you’ll have to come to the clinic for bandage removal and scalp cleaning. At this time, you may experience pain, numbness, and slight bleeding. Since the grafts have only recently been transplanted and are in the process of taking root, no growth will be taking place. Although it’s recommended that you take time off for 3-5 days after surgery, many people also feel fit to get back to their normal routines just a day after.
1 Week – Post Surgery
During this time of hair transplant recovery, you’ll have scabbing and crusting from the healing wounds. As long as you’re following the washing instructions, this should get better. By now, you won’t be experiencing most of the common side effects of the surgery, but itchiness and pain might still be there.
By now, the hair grafts will have taken root with new skin tissue formed around them. Still, no growth will take place. It’s important that the week following the surgery, you do the following:
- Stay hydrated
- Sleep with your head elevated
- Don’t consume alcohol
- Avoid any physical activities, including sex
- Do not go under a pressurized shower
2 Weeks – Post Surgery
This week or the week after, many patients experience what’s known as shock loss. That means that you’ll temporarily lose your hair (both in donor and recipient areas). It doesn’t affect the roots of the hair follicles. They remain intact. However, for some time, you won’t notice any hair growing out of your scalp.
Other than that, most of the scabs on your scalp will be washed away by now, although slight pain and itchiness in the donor area might still persist. Two weeks after the surgery, you can do the following:
- Start sleeping on your sides
- Wear loose scarves and caps
- Exercise lightly (be sure not to sweat)
1 Month – Post Surgery
The hair is still in the dormant phase, and you won’t notice any growth taking place. Most of the transplanted hair will have been shed by this time due to shock loss. Scabbing and most of the side effects won’t be a concern anymore. It’s possible for you to experience numbness, though. You can normally do the following after 1 month:
- Engage in physical activity
- Wear beanies and woolly hats
- Go to swimming pools and saunas
- Trim your hair with scissors
3-4 Months – Post Surgery
Around this time of the hair transplant recovery, hair growth is just starting to take place. You may grow 10-20% of your hair. This growth will continue to take place, and you won’t see the final results until a year or so has passed.
During this time, it is quite possible that you notice your hair growing irregularly. Their textures and colours may also vary; some may be coarse while others light and fine. However, this is only temporary, and your will start growing normally with time. You can start shaving your hair after the 3rd month. The hair density should keep on increasing. You can do scalp massages to stimulate hair growth. There are other ways, too, by which you can do that.
4-8 Months – Post Surgery
Around 60-80% of hair growth will have taken place 4-8 months into the hair transplant recovery. It’s possible that hair growth is irregular in the early months. One area may have denser growth in contrast to the other.
The hair in the crown region tends to grow more slowly because of the thickness of the skin and less blood supply. Normally, you should notice 1 cm of hair growth taking place per month.
8-12 Months – Post Surgery
Around this time of the hair transplant recovery, 90-100% of your hair will have grown. Many people see the final result of their surgery after this time, but some of them may have to wait for a few more months. The hair growth should not be irregular, and your transplanted hair should have blended with the native hair.
Your hair should continue to gain length. If after this much time has passed and you haven’t achieved the desired density, you may need another session of hair transplant. It’s important to stay patient during the entire recovery timeline. It’s only after 12-18 months have passed that you can judge the success or failure of your transplant.
What You Can Do To Speed Up The Recovery After Hair Transplant?
Your doctor may recommend the following to speed up your recovery:
PRP Therapy – It can take place in conjunction with a restoration surgery. These injections are widely recommended by hair transplant surgeons so that the patient can speed up the healing process. In addition, it can help increase hair density.
Eat Healthy Foods – Any kind of nutritional deficiencies that you develop through dieting for weight loss can result in a setback in the recovery process. It’s important to eat foods rich in minerals, vitamins, and proteins.
Do Gentle Hair Care – Once the hair has started to grow, make sure that you’re not using any harsh chemicals or causing any heat damage to it through different styling tools.
Quit Smoking – Because it affects the blood supply to the scalp, slowing down hair growth, it’s best if you quit smoking altogether.
Stay Out of Sun – In the initial stages of recovery, you need to avoid the sun because it can make you sweat and weaken your immune system. Although you can be under direct sunlight after 1 month, it’s still a good idea to protect your hair and scalp from any kind of sun damage.
The best thing to do while recovering after a hair transplant is to remain patient. Your hair growth will take place slower than normal because of the surgery. First, the shock of it will make your hair enter the dormant stage, and when it does start growing, it will be irregular. This can become a cause for concern for people who may think that the grafts in some parts of the scalp have failed to “take.”
You cannot assess whether or not your hair transplant has failed before 12-18 months have passed. Before that, if you’re recovering normally, you don’t have anything to worry about. If you think something is wrong, you can get in touch with your doctor for a medical assessment.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.